British wildlife recordings
Picoides major : Great Spotted Woodpecker - Picidae
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Yarner Wood, Devon: OS Grid Reference(277500,78500)
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Picoides major
The drumming of the great spotted woodpecker, recorded on Yarmer Wood, Devon. This woodpecker is a familiar resident of broadleaf woodland in England, Wales and most of Scotland. Its striking black and white 'pied' plumage and noisy, resonating 'drumming' is instantly recognisable on a woodland walk. This bird is often found clinging tightly to the bark of trees, being wary of people by moving itself out of view. In flight the woodpecker performs undulating movements, during which it utters clear 'tchik' calls. The diet is varied and consists of wood-boring insect larvae, spiders, nuts, seeds and berries. It also occasionally raids nest-boxes in order to feed on nestling birds. Dead trees found in woodland often reveal the gashes, holes and cracks that have resulted from the fevered pecking of this bird. The 'drumming' sound is used to define territories and is carried out by both sexes. The nest is an excavated hole in a tree, usually located three metres above the ground. The female alone incubates four to seven pure white eggs, although both parents rear the chicks. Since the 1950's these birds have spread to inhabit parks and gardens throughout Britain. Apart from migrants, they are absent from Ireland. Their numbers rose in the 1970's due to the spread of Dutch-elm desease, and presently the population remains at a stable 30,000 breeding pairs.